Sunday, May 13, 2007

God's Precious Grace: The Failures of Those Before Us

Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old--
Lamentations 5:21
This is how Jeremiah's lament in Jerusalem ends. This is the plight of the people of Judah. They are separated from God and they long to be brought back to Him. They desire to be restored from their desolation and the request they make shows that they know that the way this will happen, the only way, is if they are restored to the LORD. They must be restored to God Himself. There is no restoration apart from the presence of the LORD and it seems like the people of Judah know this. Oh, do they ever know this! That is why they say in verse 3 that they "have become orphans, fatherless; [their] mothers are like widows." They say this because God was their Father but He no longer is. They are without a father so their plea in verse 21 is to be restored to their Father.

The people of Judah want to be restored to their Father because they remember what the days of old were like. Those days were infinitely better than these present days. When they remember what those days used to be like and then look at what their days are now like, how could they not say, "Renew our days as of old"? In those days they feasted on delicacies and were brought up in purple (4:5), purple representing the garments that the wealthiest wore. In those days their "princes were purer than snow [and] whiter than milk; their bodies were more ruddy than coral [and] the beauty of their form was like sapphire (4:6)." But these days they "must pay for the water [they] drink; the wood [they] get must be bought (5:4)." These days they are weary and have no rest (5:5). These days they are ruled by slaves and must get their own bread to eat from the wilderness at the risk of their lives (5:8,9).

This is stunning! How in the world did the people of Judah end up from where they were then, where God worked for them, to where they are now, being left to fend for themselves? The only answer that conceivably makes sense is that they were completely blind to what they had. They didn't recognize the benefits of having the infinitely powerful God of the universe as their Father who worked for them, who showed Himself gloriously strong on their behalf. They somehow weren't aware that they didn't have to pay for anything. They somehow weren't aware that food and all they could ever need was freely given to them in abundance. They somehow didn't like being ruled by the God who is infinitely kind, infinitely good, infinitely loving, infinitely righteous, and infinitely generous, as opposed to being ruled by slaves (5:8). They didn't love those days then. But oh how they love and long for them now!

Oh let us learn from them! Let us not be like them and be tempted this day to forget the infinite benefits we receive from our Almighty God this very moment. Let us instead place our hand over our mouth and tremble at the thought of being utterly rejected by our heavenly Father.

Righteous Father, forgive us for the countless ways we take You for granted. Most of us are rich in every sense of the word yet we don't even realize it. We are blind and so we are so easily deceived to change our glory for that which does not profit. We are prone to exchange the living God who works for us for other gods, created gods, that we have not known and can do nothing for us. We complain and bicker and moan, failing to realize that we don't even deserve that which we do have. Forgive us. Open the eyes of our hearts so that we may see the immeasurable riches we have in Your glorious presence. Make us to tremble with fear and terror at the thought of not having You as our Father. Grant that we wouldn't dismiss that thought but instead have it painted in vivid colors so that we know it is the reality of what will happen to us if we trifle with You. And then turn that trembling into overflowing delight in the beauty of Your countenance, making us love to fear You so that we may not turn from You. Thank You that You have not given us these words for nothing. Enable us to learn from them, Father, so as not to repeat them. May You be most glorified in us by making us to be most satisfied in You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

1 comment:

Justin said...

oh man... i pray that i never take what god gives me for granted eventhough it's so easy to get caught up in this world and to think that i actually earned this stuff when i didnt when it's god's grace to me... his everlasting grace